BREAST CANCER: FDA Allows Mammograms To Go Digital
The FDA gave the thumbs-up to digital mammograms Monday, granting approval to GE Medical Inc.'s Senographe 2000D computerized mammography system. Although the FDA stresses that currently the digital X-rays are "just as good as -- not better than -- regular mammograms," the new technology does offer some potential advantages, the Associated Press reports. Unlike regular mammography film, the digital images can be electronically stored to prevent loss and adjusted for under or overexposure, eliminating the need for additional X-rays. Each year, some 30 million American women have a mammogram, "the gold standard in detecting breast cancer." But this testing is not foolproof, and for years, doctors and scientists have hoped that images could be enhanced via computer. Dr. Daniel Kopans, director of breast imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital, helped study the system and noted, "This will open a new era in mammographic detection of breast cancer. This is the first step and I've got my fingers crossed all these things are going to pan out. This gives us the opportunity" to try. FDA Chief of Radiologic Devices Dr. Dan Schultz cautioned that the potential of digital mammogram devices to better detect cancer "has yet to be realized." Schultz concluded, "Just about everything we do is digital, and it's about time mammography was also." According to GE Medical, the Senographe 2000D would cost hospitals $500,000 (Neergaard, 2/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.